Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini

The zucchini is stuffed with brown rice, lean ground beef, red peppers, parmesan cheese and basil, just to name a few. I thought that would be a bit of a mouthful if I put it in the title. In fact you may have looked at a long title and thought, "forget about it!" Hopefully you didn't because this was super yummy!

I told you I love zucchini! When I was searching for a great casserole recipe I also stumbled up on this little gem. Turns out, Kalyn's Kitchen has tons of great zucchini recipes. Looks like she's as crazy about them as I am. I found her recipe here, but I made a few modifications based on what we had - and err what I forgot to do while cooking.

This was filling and very healthy. It gives you something from almost every food group! Talk about a well-rounded meal. We were both full but not stuffed and uncomfortable like some dishes can make you. I will definitely be making this again!

*Note: For you vegetarians: substitute ground beef for black beans! I plan to make it that way next time. I think it will be awesome! 

Stuffed Zucchini with Ground Beef, Red Pepper, Brown Rice & Parmesan
Recipe by Kalyn's Kitchen
Yields 4 stuffed zucchini halves
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*2 large or 4 small round zucchini (or use regular shaped zucchini)
*1/2 onion, chopped
*1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
*2 tsp. olive oil
*1 lb. very lean ground beef (less than 10% fat; mine had 4% fat)
*1 tsp. chopped garlic or garlic puree (from a jar; *I used 2 cloves garlic, minced)
*1/2 tsp. ground fennel seed (I did my best to "grind" my fennel seed - from spice rack!)
*1 cup cooked brown rice
*1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
*3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
*1/4 cup chicken stock (totally forgot this step while cooking, whoops!)

*Preheat oven to 375. 
*Cut stem and flower ends off zucchini. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, then using a pointed teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out and discard most of the zucchini flesh and seeds.
*Microwave zucchini 3-4 minutes on high.

*Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan and saute chopped onions and peppers until they are just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. (They will cook more in the oven, so they don't need to be fully cooked at this point.) 
*Remove onions and peppers to large mixing bowl, then add ground beef to hot pan and cook until starting to brown. When meat is about half cooked, season with ground fennel and add garlic, and continue to cook until meat is well browned, breaking it into small pieces. Remove cooked ground beef to mixing bowl.

*Add cooked brown rice, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, and chicken stock to meat and vegetable mixture, and gently combine.

*Spray pan with nonstick spray or a light misting of olive oil. Stuff zucchini with stuffing mixture, packing in as much as you can into each zucchini, and mounding it up as high as you can, until all stuffing is used (I couldn't even use all mine! It will be lunch leftovers this week!).

*Put zucchini into roasting pan (I used a 9x9 pan), putting them close together so they hold each other stuffing-side up. Roast uncovered 20-30 minutes, until zucchini is tender-crisp, and filling is hot and slightly browned. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
scooped out zucchini

onion and pepper cooking

time to add seasoning to meat!
everything mixed up and ready for filling

the boats are ready!
with a little extra parmesan cheese on top

delicious and filling!

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